Could the new hires of the future resemble something more electronic and binary than fresh-faced graduates? Businesses are increasingly looking at virtual solutions for the next generation of recruits and it could be the case that your next ‘colleague’ is simply an email address.
These virtual colleagues of the future are emerging out of a resurging interest in the power of artificial intelligence. The current focus seeks to relieve people of drudgery while powering through mundane jobs. Whether it’s analysing masses of data to find a market trend, or just reducing your email Ping-Pong, virtual assistants could soon be freeing the humans up for work that needs creative and critical thinking.
While current technology is far from perfect – just ask Siri – ‘Amy’ is already a working beta developed by X.ai, a company whose software is focused on just one office task: scheduling meetings. Users just copy ‘Amy’ into the first email to the person they are lining up a meeting with and the web-based application – no apps, no downloads – picks up the thread. In theory, it takes care of putting down the meeting time and location options then sends out invites to all parties.
It’s a model that may point to the immediate future of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace – a narrow focus but deep capability. While such applications may gradually encroach on enterprise software – the big stuff that company’s run on – they’re just as likely to be start-up offers like that from X.ai, adopted directly by users and spread virally.
The first to crack the code – literally – could find themselves in big business. ‘Slackbot’, a kind of programmable assistant and multi-tasker born out of an in-house internet messaging application, has been developed by start-up Slack.
According to media reports, investors have valued the company at $2.8bn thanks to its potential in the workplace. If the funding keeps coming and the advances keep happening, you could find yourself talking to a virtual robot sooner than you think.